By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Northborough – In an economic environment that is still struggling, many are still finding it difficult to gain employment. For those with disabilities, the search can be especially frustrating. But thanks to the Central Mass Employment Collaborative (CMEC ) over 100 Massachusetts residents have found jobs this past year, including 26 at the Wegmans store in Northborough.
CMEC is a network of employment service providers, state agency representatives, employers, and Workforce Development entities. The project is led by Riverside Community Care, an award-winning, nonprofit organization offering programs in mental healthcare, developmental and cognitive disabilities, addiction treatment, and early childhood services.? With assistance from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and the Department of Mental Health (DMH), CMEC works with provider agencies to receive referrals, offer training and coordinate placements with local businesses.
Recently, John Polanowicz, the state's health and human services secretary, met with two of the employees that CMEC has helped to place at Wegmans. ?A number of representatives from other state agencies and local service providers attended the meeting as well.
One of the employees, Julia, noted that she has been with Wegmans for a year. She is responsible for assisting in the café dining area.
“There are wonderful people here. People help each other out a lot,” she said. “It feels like my home here. Sometimes after my shift I don's want to leave.”
“Plus, I love making money!” she added.
The other employee, Paul, had only been with the store for a few weeks, yet he too was very happy with his new customer service position.
“It's going good,” he told Polanowicz. “I like it here.”
Jeff Monahan, the staffing coordinator for Wegmans, has worked with CMEC to place the employees.
“It's important to work with a collaborative like CMEC. We really try to have a work force that reflects the entire community. That makes us stronger as a company,” he said.
Dave Orlovsky, the store's manager, agreed.
“All of our employees go through a three stage interview process. We make an effort to hire people who share our corporate values, no matter what position they are interviewing for,” he said.
“Personally I think it important to offer opportunities to those who might not otherwise have them,” he said. “So I really support a program like this.
The store had thus far hired 26 people through CMEC, with more positions expected to be filled, Monahan ?said.
“The Patrick Administration is committed to the Community First principles of providing opportunities for individuals with all types of disabilities to live self-sufficiently, and this is a great example of how private-public partnerships can achieve this goal,” Polanowicz said after his visit. “By partnering with community-based providers and local companies, we can promote increased integration, improved wages and benefits, and greater independence for people with disabilities, while providing the private sector with the benefits of a motivated and diversified workforce.”
For more information on CMEC visit www.centralmassworks.org
For more information on Riverside Community Care visit www.riversidecc.org.